Jen Richards

Wildlife artist

Throwback Thursday: A long time ago in a country far, far away…

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You may have seen the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday, #tbt, or however the internet masses like to shorten it floating around recently. It’s quite a fun idea, and I’ve had many a giggle seeing things from my friends’ archives. I’ve got mountains of dreadful art and pictures of embarrassing hair and fashion choices that I could share, but the other day I stumbled across this absolute gem that combines all of those. I had to share it.

Back in 2001 at the tender age of 14 I entered Junior Wildart, a competition held by my “home zoo”, Paignton Zoo Environmental Park. Kids were encouraged to create images of their favourite animals so it’s no surprise what I ended up submitting. There were three different age categories and I won in mine; I was also the one who got to have their photo taken for the local papers. Hooray me!

So here I am, being 14 and awkward, in front of my orcas and holding my certificate and art supply voucher prize:

Hiding behind hair, sleeves covering hands... yep, that's a teenager.

Hiding behind hair, hands in sleeves… yep, that’s a teenager. I have no idea why I did that top painting either – it seemed original when I was 14, guys.

I can (and probably will) poke fun at myself forever, but this was the first time I’d entered an art competition (except for my awesome manatee rescue story – I wish I could find that) so this certificate and little newspaper clipping do hold a special place in my heart. I drifted away from drawing and painting animals for a while when I hit 16 and didn’t return to it seriously until about eight years later, and I’m so glad I did. It’s really nice to see my progress. I wonder if my fellow Junior Wildart winners kept painting?


Author: Jen

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